7.30am, heard throughout our apartment, "I'm up! I'm UP! Are we going yet? Let's GO-O!" Rockstar proceeds to race excitedly around the apartment followed closely by our Border Collie with the ole' herding instinct kicked in.
If you were driving to Repulse Bay Beach last Friday at 9am and wondering why traffic going in was just totally jammed up, PLEASE BLAME US. Our part time driver did, "This place is never jammed at this time, must be all you Kindy Beach Party-goers." Which is when I start noticing turquoise-and-navy uniforms. Oops. Rockstar is in his school fleece jacket to be sure (over a wetsuit top - it is 20-22 Degrees Celsius and windy, though it's a fine day), but he's also sporting his favorite bright red swim trunks with scuba diving penguins on them. He had a choice of navy-light-blue floral, or the penguins and he chose the flash, "The penguins are cuter." Like any responsible parent <cough>, it's his fault:
"<earnestly> Tomorrow, don't wear school uniform, just wear the hat. And wear Crocs. Because we need to play in the sand and also in the water." Ok, maybe they decided to have water activities at the last minute, so they announced the day before to supersede the note saying to wear school uniform. (Hah! I'm so gullible right?)
Rockstar's unable to contain his excitement the moment he sees the sand through one of the side paths leading to the beach from the road, so instead of waiting to enter via the carpark (and collect "passport" at entrance where school staff have set up various educational activities - we belatedly realize), we get out on the road with massive jam still in front of us and enter the beach from a little side lane.
(I must really be the most gullible parent around, everyone else that I can see has suited their kids up in full school uniform. Rockstar must've wanted to play in the water, one of the other mums chuckles later when I explain the scuba diving penguins.)
A girlfriend who has a boy with erm, just such swoon-some traits, shows me a beaded bracelet. Her son always goes for a turn at beading stations anywhere, so he can make something for her to wear.... There are just little boys out there like that, I met another mum not too long ago whose lower-primary-aged boy described how he calls her Heart, "because (she is) always in my heart." Told ya, swoon-some. Me, I can just forget it - the Kings is not like that, and neither is the Rockstar. Just in case it wasn't blindingly obvious, both have pointed this out. "I'm not like that, Mum." "But you know I'm not like that right, dear?"
Kings, who tries to take a few hours off work when he's in town to "be there" for some of Rockstar's more "important" stuff (as in, "important" to the Rockstar haha) notes there are quite a few other dads who have done the same. There are way not as many helpers-only accompanied kids considering this is crazy-work-schedule Hong Kong and it's a working Friday morning. I think quite a few people took time off for this.
Kings also notes at least 2 dads have somehow dropped their kids in the water. In another hour however, Rockstar's squealing delightedly at landing butt first in a wave while filling his sprinkling can. It remains debatable that wasn't deliberate.
I overhear a teacher explaining how to make the turrets by adding water and pressing the sand down so it sticks together... And now regret I didn't endeavor to get a shot of the class flags/ "camps" and little turrets (free flow of flags!) sticking out all over the beach (it was quite nicely cleared up at leaving time, in case you were wondering)..
No mean feat ok, he actually let school staff draw on his face... And they were even nice enough to match his face to his shorts when I have been bamboozled by my offspring into dressing him in penguins... No sweating the small stuff... And usually Rockstar's a fusspot about having anything on, the first time I bought a set of face paints at home he just looked in the mirror and bawled at me...
So there are whole clusters of sand castles with flags in them, but over on this side it's... Ant mounds? Pyramids?
The hole digging is actually really cute because every few minutes one of em will holler "Bo-o-ob the builder," and then the whole group of them will pipe up, "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" occasionally accompanied by marching in place. Obviously all the doting parents like yours truly were melting. Rockstar's still singing 2 days later.
We would've been pretty happy just for the chance to let Rockstar dig a few holes with his whole class/ school around. Except this thing turned out to be a whole bunch of educational activities and bonding. Yes, not to sound smarmy, "bonding."
Truth is, it's coming in on the much-anticipated Primary School Interview Season. You can't really escape from inflicting a school "interview" on your 4-5 yr old in Hong Kong if they're going to Pri school soon, but Rockstar's Kindy does what they can and then some, to try and make it as pleasant and un-stressful for our kids. How?
Most of us got our letters of invitation for our kids to go for interviews at the ESF primary schools specific to our catchment area so for the last week our ESF Kindy has been abuzz with Who's Going For Which Interview Slot since it would be less stressful if our kids saw familiar faces (ie of some of their school friends) at said interview time.
At least some of the parents are looking to set up specific playdates with kids allocated the same interview time slots (not too difficult since the ESF family - yes I really do feel that way with all the help we get - will endeavor to put kids from the same Kindy class who are applying to the same Pri school in their catchment area together in the group interview). So no prizes guessing what the hot topic of discussion is among parents this day. However I also note a few parent conversations that include appreciation for how supportive Kindergarten staff have been in trying to allay parents' interview jitters.
And what better way for the kids and parents to get to know each other picnicking on the beach; for K1s they're still relatively new to the Kindy and it's a great chance to make friends and get used to the other faces at school (I remember this time last year worrying if Rockstar was making friends), for K2s it can be the most enjoyable/ least stressful way for kids in the same interview slots to get to know each other better - what better way than bonding over digging massive holes in the beach - this has got to be the best "organized playdate" ever.
Belatedly I realize just how behind we are on collecting "stamps" from the many activities available - except Rockstar is still busy Bob The Builder-ing so I leave it.
Though they did work on pulling out the "Enormous Turnip" (vaguely remember Rockstar mentioning the book in school, but I can't remember if it was Quiet Reading Time, or they read the book together, or he brought it back from the school library...)
No surprises here - Rockstar KOed after a hurried pizza lunch. 2 hours later he wakes, does a whole lotta doodling (we missed the sand drawing), painting, then announces I shall read him "just one" book - before KO-ing again. He wakes all chirpy and singing throughout the apartment for the next couple days.